2017 goal check in time

I know it’s only halfway through December but, while I have a spare moment, it seems a perfect time to check in on my running goals for the year, set so long ago that I’ve almost forgotten what they are…

  • Run 1000km during the year
    Done. Emphatically. So far, I’m up to 1138km for the year. With my current niggles, I’m not expecting to add much to that but it’s already a total that I’m really proud of.
  • Reach my 100 parkrun milestone
    Done. Another one of those milestones that seemed so far off then appeared out of nowhere. And celebrating with the launch of Torquay parkrun with friends from around the state visiting was perfect. The next parkrun milestone of 250 is going to take a while.
  • Sub 35minute parkrun
    No, but getting closer. My best time so far is a smidge over 36 minutes so I’m not far off. Having spent most of this year working on endurance, not speed, my parkrun times have slowed down but this will be a goal I’ll continue to work on next year.
  • Walk a marathon. Not an actual marathon, just the distance to prove to myself that I can
    No. The plan had been to do this before we signed up for Disney, just to reassure ourselves that we could do it. I’ve never been known for doing things in the right order though. In training, I got up to 37km so my first actual marathon distance (fingers crossed) will be on marathon day.
  • Volunteer at running events – parkrun and others
    Yes. I became a run director at You Yangs parkrun and am very close to reaching my 25 volunteer milestone. I volunteered at Barwon River run and Surf Coast trail marathon and thoroughly enjoyed both experiences. There is almost as much joy in watching and helping others achieve as there is in running it yourself and it’s definitely something I’ll continue.
  • Give cycling and swimming a fair go this year
    Not at all. My bike is still sitting, slightly forlorn, in the dining room. It resurfaced from the garage, was cleaned up and tuned and I took it out on the roads….for 1 ride. I think I’ve been for 1 swim as well. I certainly need to do some cross training and am sure one of these (or both) will be it but it’s going to take me a while to learn to love them. Or even like them. Right now, I struggle to be in the same room as them. Must try harder next year.

So, not a bad year all round. I don’t know whether I’ll have any immediate goals when 2018 ticks over as all I can focus on right now is healing my legs and getting to the finish line at Disney x 4! I fully expect to have some post-event blues after that as the training has been so intense and consuming that I haven’t planned or thought about what might come next. I’m not even signed up to any other events which is highly unusual for me. I know I want to do more parkrun tourism next year but that’s all that’s on the agenda at this stage. So watch this space 🙂

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Dopey training – week 25

I didn’t run on Tuesday – life and the craziness of my working life at the end of the year got in the way and I decided to rest up for the mock Dopey ahead of me. My first run for the week was Thursday and I set off for my usual lap of the neighbourhood. All was going well with pretty consistent and easy intervals until about the 4th kilometre when I felt the familiar tug of pain in my leg……my left leg. Not the one that’s currently giving me grief. My spare, uninjured one. I immediately toned it down to a walk for the remainder of the session and tried hard not to panic.

On Friday, I woke up mostly pain free on that side and got through the working day without any problems. I was due to do another training run Friday night but decided to skip it, just in case.

This morning, I opted for ‘just’ 5km at parkrun (rather than the 19km that my training plan was calling for) and the first minute of it was fine. The rest was not. There was definitely something not right with my left leg. The fact that its pain was overshadowing that which currently lives in my right leg said it all. I managed to walk pretty fast on the flat but going up hill was not pretty and I was thankful for my sunglasses so I could hide the tears from my fellow parkrunners.

And that’s it. Very hard to write a training recap when you’re no longer training. The taper officially begins today and to say I’m not happy about it is clearly an understatement. Tomorrow I should be tackling a 40km training run but instead I’ll be trying to quell the anxiety and enjoying having extra time to pack, hoping it doesn’t turn into a very expensive opportunity to cheer my friends on in a big overseas event. I have a physio appointment booked on Thursday anyway so will see what she says. All I can hope is that, with 3 weeks to go, my niggles can heal enough to get me over the finish line.

Weekly summary:

Thursday – 5km (48:01)
Saturday – 5km (49:38)

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Dopey training – week 24

Last week’s entry ended with positive thoughts for an injury free journey to the start line. As I continued to feel tweaks in my leg, I chose to rest instead of run on Tuesday and then booked in to see the physio on Thursday. Even before attending, this was anxiety-inducing – my regular physio was no longer there. While that doesn’t seem like a big deal to others, it’s a huge deal to me. I’m not one to cultivate relationships with my healthcare providers – I don’t even have a regular GP, choosing instead to see whoever is available at the clinic when I need a doctor. However, once I find someone I feel comfortable with, I stick to them and I had found an absolute gem of a physio. He took me seriously as an athlete, never flinched at any of my aspirations (regardless of how wacky) and, most importantly, put niggles into perspective with a spoonful of reality and a prescription of ‘You’ll be fine – keep going’! So it was with some trepidation that I approached a new physio. It turned out, I had nothing to be nervous about – she’s great. Equally supportive and just as good at (softly) telling me to stop whingeing and get back to training. I still have soreness at the top of my calf but she massaged it and assured me it was nothing big enough to stop training for.

So, on Saturday, I got back into it with a parkrun fix, at home for once. And it was lovely. My legs felt great, my lungs felt great and it was, generally, a pretty easy and relatively speedy run. It was made even better as I was tag teaming with another parkrunner along the way and we were pushing each other – she was running continually while I was run/walking but we were pretty much the same pace. She crossed the finish line with a PB and I was so pleased for her – almost as good as getting one myself! I also tested out my new RunFaster gear and can confirm it feels as good as it looks 🙂

Today, it was time for a long run although a run of 11km doesn’t feel long anymore. It’s an interesting point really – I like the fact that it doesn’t feel long and hope it never does again but I obviously can’t keep these kms up forever. Anyway, I digress. I chose my favourite Surf Coast Trail as I didn’t really feel like running and needed something special to get me out the door. Seeing all of my friends posting on Strava and Facebook about their runs was the final push I needed and I got my gear on and went. I also saw a couple of friends at the start of the run which was great – set me off in the right mood. My leg was pretty good throughout the run – a bit pinchy on the hills but not terrible. I did take it easy but also tried not to shirk on intervals until my leg had had enough and kept up a solid pace overall.

Next week is our mock-Dopey runs and our final looooong run. I’m not 100% convinced my leg will let me do it but we shall see.

Weekly summary:
Saturday – 5km (39:20)
Sunday – 11km (1:41:31)

Dopey training – week 23

This week was, understandably, a little less intense than last week. I pulled up surprisingly well after the mini-Dopey of last weekend and wasn’t particular sore, just pretty tired for a few days. I had already decided to push my mid-week runs back so didn’t run until Thursday. As runs go, it was pretty good. I kept up the intervals and felt ok, other than generally feeling a bit sluggish.

After the run, my calf was hurting more than I like so I was a bit undecided about whether to run on it again or take the opportunity of some low mileage weeks to rest it. Decisions, decisions.

Like most runners, I don’t find decisions that involve not running easy so, of course, I chose to run again on Saturday as we headed to Sunbury parkrun. I started out running consistent intervals on this one then thought ‘why’ and walked a lot more to try to take it as gently on my leg as possibly. It wasn’t particularly easy as the course had a few ups and downs….and who can resist running downhill?!? Not I! And, afterwards, my leg was again grumpy with me.

So on Sunday, I actually listened to my body and rested. I foam rolled, I bathed in Epsom salts, I did regular calf raises and I thought as many positive thoughts as I was capable of. I’m convinced that my ‘injuries’ are worse when I have time to think about them and this has been confirmed today – with the busyness of work today, my leg hasn’t hurt at all.

The start line isn’t far away and the first challenge is to reach it, healthy and uninjured.

Weekly summary:

Thursday: 5km (44:57)
Saturday: 5km (44:14)

parkrun tourism @ Sunbury

Sunbury parkrun launched last weekend and I very badly wanted to be there. However, with a mini-Dopey to run, I had attempted to map out an additional 11km in unfamiliar surroundings to make up the day’s total and just couldn’t do it. So I gave up and we stayed local, adding to the list of Victorian parkruns to cover.

Event #2 this weekend had a bit of a question mark over it with a ‘rain event’ making its way through the state however Jo, Gary and I were crazy enough to set off for Sunbury anyway, knowing that we may get halfway there to find it was cancelled. Luckily for us, the ‘yes, we’re on’ message came out on Facebook not long before we pulled up in the car park. We had given ourselves plenty of time, in case of bad weather, however the weather had clearly scared away the other cars so we had a quiet run with the roads to ourselves.

Thankfully Sunbury has a shelter so we all huddled while we waited for briefing time, commenting on how mad we all were and hoping that this was just a passing shower. Briefing done (including welcoming at least one brave first timer), we moved along to the start and prepared to run….and get wet. It wasn’t pouring, just a light and consistent drizzle. And off we went.

The course starts by heading downhill to the creek path then along to a turn off (along a short, muddy track) to go around ‘The Nook’ before rejoining the path and going up a ‘small’ hill. It certainly warmed me up but wasn’t the worst parkrun hill I’ve come across and is over pretty quickly, elevating you to ‘The skyline’ where you get to see Sunbury in all its glory down below. It’s then flat to the turnaround point although had a headwind on the way back which I didn’t need. What was lovely was enjoying running back down the hill, making up for my slow ascent with a very quick km. And then, before I knew it, I was heading back up the little hill at the side of the bridge and turning right for the finish line.

This parkrun was as welcoming as you could possibly want with a good crowd turning out and very friendly volunteers, despite the weather. I’m looking forward to coming back when the sun is shining as the combination of the great community, varied and interesting course and blue skies would be perfect. Well done to the event team and many happy parkruns to you!

Dopey training – week 22

Settle in (again) and prepare yourselves for a long post. I had contemplated writing this post as the days happened and I wish I had – I’m sure, now that it’s done, it’ll be hard to capture the mood. Or, rather, the moods. It was definitely a ‘moody’ week.

I skipped Tuesday’s run intentionally – my leg was feeling a bit dodgy and I knew I needed every bit of health and energy for what was to come. So it became an extra rest day.

Thursday was the beginning of the mini-Dopey simulation and I was kind of eager to get it started. With the warm weather well and truly here, I chose to go into town and run around the park and along the waterfront so that I could finish with a dip in the water. The run was great. I made sure I took it easy, both in pace and on my leg and was happy with how it went. Having said that, I was still very, very doubtful that I would actually manage to get all the kms in. It’s like there are 2 voices in my head – one yelling quite loudly ‘You can’t do it! It’s too far! It’s going to hurt! You’re not a marathoner!’ and another much quieter voice, quite simply asking ‘What if you can?’. At this stage, I was listening to the louder voice and trying my best to do it anyway.

Friday had 6.5km scheduled so I got to it after work. I was hot and tired and still sceptical but I set off around the block anyway. My goal for all of the runs this week was to get them done without worrying about pace. If I could keep under Disney pace, great. If not, oh well. So this was more of a walk with sporadic bouts of running to keep the pace down. My leg was a bit grumpy at the end of it and I wasn’t confident of it holding out for the rest of the kilometres planned. I did my rituals – epsom salt bath spiky ball – and tried to think positive thoughts.

On Saturday, I needed to do 16km and wanted to do the extra kms pre-parkrun so was down at the river by 6am to set off. I ran in the opposite direction to my normal route and found a bit of a hidden gem in the other end of the river. Very picturesque and winding enough to keep me wondering what would come along next. It was also not as quiet as I thought so I felt quite safe with other walkers and runners along the path. Coming back towards the parkrun start, I bumped into friends out for their pre-parkrun kms and hatched a plan with Jo to join her for the long run the following day. I will admit to being a bit uneasy about this – I adore my running friends and have had many great runs with them but have tended to do this training alone so I don’t feel like I’m holding anyone up. The added bonus being it’s only me who has to put up with my inevitable whingeing in the final few kms. So this was going to be something new.

I made it back in time for briefing then completed a steady parkrun to finish off my kms for the day.

My alarm was set for 4am on Sunday and, surprisingly, I got up straight away and got ready. To say I was not looking forward to this was an understatement. My legs were fine despite 3 days of running and I wasn’t suffering too much from a couple of early mornings but nothing about running 37km appealed and the steady drizzle outside did not improve my mood. Husband and I drove to Kardinia Park to meet the others, took the obligatory start line selfie and then were on our way.

And my anxiety dissolved. Of course this would be ok. These people, who I am lucky enough to call my friends, were here to help Jo and I get it done and cared enough about us to get up very early on a Sunday morning and run in the rain. For once, I didn’t have to depend on my own resources, drive and determination – I could share the energy of the collective. I can’t say enough about how grateful I was that they were there and how supported I felt – definitely a different vibe to my solo runs.

Before long, we were out of town and into the countryside. I was surprised at how quickly the kilometres were ticking off although it probably helped to not really know where I was so had no real sense of distance. We were joined by another friend along the trail then another couple at Leopold where we stopped for a toilet break. Having fresh friends seemed to freshen us up as well – it still a hard slog but I was definitely buoyed along by the atmosphere this bunch created.

Along the path not far from Drysdale, we gained another 3 who accompanied us in to our temporary aid station where I changed my socks for dry ones, checked on the state of my blisters and added extra band aids and there were toilets and drinks for those that needed them.

From here, we embarked on the hardest part of the run – an out and back totalling 17km to make up the distance. And this was where having such a big group was perfect as our paces were very different. Personally, I was flagging. The previous 3 days of running were catching up with me and I was tired. I took in more fuel and did the mental checklist of body parts to find out what was hurting but really, it was just tiredness. My feet were ok and my calf was behaving itself. I walked a lot in this section but at a pace that kept me ahead of the virtual balloon ladies. I was happy with that – very happy. I’d worried about my ability to do this at all and, here I was, walking it in but still keeping the pace. Tick.

Turning around and coming back was even harder although not as bad as my last long run which I took a lot of comfort from. Having friends around helped, so did all the training. The little voice that had been quietly asking ‘What if you can?’ was beginning to gain some confidence and volume. In those last few kilometres, despite the pain of blistered feet and general aches, I believed for the first time that I have a chance of completing the Dopey challenge.

Weekly summary – 64.8km total

Thursday – 5.2km (45:06)
Friday – 6.5km (1:04:16)
Saturday – 16km (2:35:39)
Sunday – 37km (6:07:00)

Dopey training – Week 21

It’s all getting very close and very real now and I think that’s making the training a mentally much harder task. Not to mention the fact that Term 4 is the most draining of all school terms for teachers (ignore all comments about ‘Aren’t you winding down for the end of the year?’) with a constant and demanding ‘to do’ list. And, while I know neither of those are an excuse, they may go towards explaining my mood this week.

So I didn’t run on Tuesday. I can’t even remember why or whether there was a particular reason. I just didn’t. I know I was ridiculously tired and our side of the planet has heated up considerably this week so both were contributing factors. I set the alarm for Wednesday morning instead…..then turned it off and had a sleep in. ‘I can make it up’ I told myself and moved on.

On Thursday, I knew I really had to do it so went out after school, showing some resilience as it was raining when I left and built up to a drenching by the last 2 kms. I ran around the block, which I haven’t done for a while and enjoyed it. Even more shocking, I was quite speedy for the first time in ages and felt strong throughout my run. I guess that’s what the combination of long runs and rested legs do for you. I dripped my way back into the house (literally) with a smile on my face.

I was due to do my 2nd 45 minute run of the week on Saturday at parkrun and was intending to head to Melbourne for my friend’s 50th parkrun. I woke up feeling rather ill but pushed through it and got ready. Just before turning onto the freeway, feeling ill had grown into a panic attack so I turned around and headed home. For whatever reason, my body and brain had decided that it wasn’t a running day for me and had given me no choice but to listen. Would I have felt better if I had somehow made myself? Probably. Husband kindly came with me for a no pressure walk on the beach later in the afternoon to get me out of the house which helped me reset. I say it often but brains really are amazing things – who knows why they do the things they do? I can only assume, after an intense week (and with a wisdom tooth causing both pain and anxiety) that I couldn’t cope with any expectations or commitments and needed to give myself a rest day. So I did.

It clearly worked as I was back at it again this morning. I didn’t set an alarm but woke up at 5.30am feeling refreshed and ready to go. I drove out to the You Yangs and set off along a new trail for me. It turned out to be exactly the tonic I needed. There was a weird fog hanging around thanks to the humid weather which added to the atmosphere. I was alone in terms of humans but stopped counting at 20 kangaroos so definitely had animal company which made me smile. The track I followed went along the edge of the park for a few kilometres before heading through the middle and gave me a different perspective than I usually get. And, as usual, my mind wandered a lot. I was thinking about how easy this run was, not the individual minutes (which were suitably challenging) but the whole thing. There was a time not that long ago that going out for an 11km run was a major undertaking whereas this just involved getting up, eating a banana and heading out. Before I knew it, the 11km were done and I was back at the car. Tonic taken, stress levels reduced and another week of training done.